by Jared Reise~

Two and a half years ago, I was contemplating going back to school for the first time in a long time.

After I started my education journey, I dished out advice at the midway point of my studies.

Today, I can say that I have successfully completed the Minneapolis Community & Technical College’s Screenwriting track in Cinema Studies.  I’m a step closer to my associate degree.

There’s still more to come for me. And you can start or redirect your own back-to-school journey.

I don’t have a career hinging on this degree.  This program was a passion project for me.  But while I was in it, especially at those busy times, I was more alert and tuned in to my job.  I made school and homework it work with my schedule because all of it was important to me.

You might want go back to school to start or move up in a career that requires a minimum degree or education.  The stories I write in my Cinema Studies classes have a beginning, middle and an end.  The same goes for planning your career.

Fade Out
The author demonstrates how NOT to finish a screenplay.

Begin by assessing where you’re at, what you have, and where you want to go.  As I stated in my previous entry, there are opportunities for credit for prior learning, financial aid, and Adult Basic Education (ABE) classes.

When you’re in the middle of it, you’re bound to face everyday challenges as you work, study, and manage your family.  I kept a weekly schedule of what I needed to do, and when.

A “to-do” list helped me look out for things on the horizon. Marking them off as “complete” was a very good feeling to have, propelling me on to the next task.  I also included “me time” in order to decompress from the work and school week.

Most of my fellow college students were literally half my age! At school, I could have easily slipped into an “I don’t belong” mentality.  But we were all new students, all learning the same things.  Focusing on what we all had in common kept me going throughout.

Check out this Careerwise comprehensive checklist to get a jump start your decision to return to school and the challenges you might face.

Keep your eye on the prize. What will it feel like when you’re finished?  And then, before you know it …

The end!  Congratulations!  You made it.  It was all worth it, wasn’t it?  For me, I made new friends and gained the respect of one of my instructors. He’s given me internship and freelance assignments and has asked me to be a tutor in the fall semester.  These are opportunities I never would have received had I not committed myself to the program.

Truth be told, I’m not quite done with my schooling.  After a few more cinema history classes next year I’ll earn a college certificate and an A.S. degree.  I’m piecing it together, but I’m making it happen.

Think about the next few years — where would you like to be in your career or education? Start your own story today!


Jared Reise works in the Career Technical Education department at the Minnesota State College and University system office.

Featured image “Tell Your Story” courtesy of Damian Gadal under Creative Commons 2.0.

6 thoughts on “The Almost Graduate: Part III of an Adult Learner's Back-to-School Journey

  1. This was a very insightful layout of the “adult-learner journey.” It gave wonderful perspective on my educational journey as graduate student. Thank you!


  2. I love your story and think it is really inspiring to others who may be hesitant to go back to school! It definitely seems like a big feat, but by setting up an easy 1-2-3 path, it seems to become more manageable. Congratulations on your degree!


  3. Thank you for sharing your story! No matter how uncomfortable a situation may feel, it’s always worth it to do whatever you need to to follow your dreams!


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